Commitment or expertise? Technocratic appointments as political responses to economic crises

Despina Alexiadou, Hakan Gunaydin

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33 Citations (Scopus)
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Why do prime ministers or presidents appoint non-elected experts, also known as technocrats, during economic crises? Do they appoint them for their expertise or for their commitment to pro-market reforms? Answering this question is crucial for understanding and predicting the longer-term role of technocrats in democracies. With the aid of unique data on the political and personal background of finance ministers in 13 parliamentary and semi-presidential European democracies we show that commitment, not expertise is the primary drive of technocratic appointments during major economic crises. Technocrats are preferred over experienced politicians when the latter lack commitment to policy reform. An important implication of our findings is that technocratic appointments to top economic portfolios in West European countries are unlikely to become the norm outside economic crises, assuming economic crises are short-lived and not recurring.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-865
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
Issue number3
Early online date25 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2019


  • technocracy
  • parliamentary democracies
  • financial crises
  • finance ministers


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